Obama to bin Laden assault team: 'Job well done'

Associated Press | 5/11/2011, 11:40 a.m.
President Barack Obama greets military personnel who have recently returned from Afghanistan, Friday, May 6, 2011, at Fort Campbell, Ky. AP /Charles Dharapak

The day also illustrated Obama’s governing life as it has been and is likely to be going ahead.

A favorable jobs report still showed the challenges he faces sustaining an economic recovery. And his address at an Indianapolis transmission plant — before he flew to Fort Campbell — aimed to promote his energy policy just as high gas prices, as the president put it to workers, “have been eating away at your paychecks.”

At Fort Campbell, the president and vice president first met with the men who raided the compound itself, probably including those who killed bin Laden.

Obama was then briefed on how the operation was carried out, by those who coordinated the attack from command centers in Afghanistan and in other undisclosed parts of the region.

That team was headed by Vice Adm. William McRaven, a Navy SEAL himself and head of the military’s elite counterterrorism unit, the Joint Special Operations Command.

Obama and Biden then met with the entire SEAL team unit that carried out the raid — both the two dozen troops who stormed the compound, and roughly the same number who circled above as backup, in case the SEALs on the ground met overwhelming force.

The president also met with air crews from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, known as the Night Stalkers, who flew the SEALs to the mission, and Green Berets from the 5th Special Forces Group.

It’s not known whether the Green Berets were involved in the bin Laden mission, but the 5th Special Forces Group gave rise to the Horse Soldiers, who first invaded Afghanistan right after 9/11.

Obama also met Cairo, a dog used to help alert the special forces teams to hidden threats, said an official who was present and asked not to be identified to freely discuss the president’s private meeting. Cairo is the only member of the raid team to be identified by name so far.

The Belgian Malinois was carried off the helicopter by a SEAL and used to scout the compound. It was unclear exactly how Cairo was used or whether it had entered the room where bin Laden died.

The president awarded the units involved in the raid a Presidential Unit Citation — the highest such honor that can be given to a unit —in recognition of their extraordinary service and achievement.

Associated Press writer Kimberly Dozier in Washington and Erik Schelzig at Fort Campbell contributed to this report.